Waking up in the morning is rarely — if ever — an easy task. But drinking caffeine-laden beverages isn’t the only way to give yourself a morning energy jolt. In fact, there are plenty of foods that you can buy at your local deli or diner that can give you that kick with no caffeine whatsoever.
8 Caffeine-Free Breakfast Dishes That Will Boost Your Energy (Slideshow)
Resorting to caffeine when you’re feeling tired might perk you up, but anyone who’s ever felt that mid-afternoon crash will know that coffee is only a temporary Band-Aid for the root issue. Caffeine is a stimulant, which means that the energy it provides isn’t going to sustain you through the day, and aside from keeping you from dozing off (we’re not going to lie: coffee can certainly come in handy during a long drive), it won’t provide you with real, useful energy.
We get energy from the foods we eat in a variety of different ways. Whereas simple carbohydrates like candy and white bread may give you a quick boost, the best foods for energy contain protein and complex carbohydrates, which increase blood glucose in a sustained, even way. And instead of eating a big greasy breakfast, opt for one that’s low in fat and high in fiber. A bacon, egg, and cheese may be delicious, but you’ll be ready for a nap within an hour of eating it. Iron also helps keep your blood oxygenated, so foods that are high in iron are important for energy. You can find some specific foods that you can buy at the supermarket that will help perk you up throughout the day here.
There are also ways of boosting your energy that don’t involve food at all. If you’ve been chained to a desk for hours and start to feel yourself nodding off, get up and walk around a little bit. Getting regular exercise also works wonders on your overall energy level. Also, drink a glass of water when you wake up and stay hydrated throughout the day in order to fend off exhaustion. And most importantly of all, make sure that you get enough sleep!
So before you reach for that bagel and cream cheese (which is guaranteed to put you in a food coma before noon), opt instead for one of these dishes, which should be readily available at your local diner, deli, or food shop.
Poor digestion can lead to an energy crash due to toxicity from the gut finding its way into the bloodstream. The probiotics in yogurt are essential for keeping that toxicity at bay by boosting the level of good bacteria in the stomach, and they can also help mend a weak immune system. And if fruit is added (especially bananas, which will help give you sustained energy throughout the day), it’s even better. Take the parfait over the top by buying one with shredded coconut, which contains a type of fat called medium-chain triglycerides, which turn into energy quickly and efficiently.
Eggs are high in iron and protein, two of the most important factors for sustained energy. And the choline, a type of B vitamin, in eggs is important for brain function. Add in spinach as well; the iron in it will help to keep your blood oxygenated, and it’s high in antioxidants and has been proven to make your muscles work more efficiently.
7 Caffeine Free Energy Boosts
With a rumored coffee shortage coming soon, we wanted to find some caffeine substitutes that will help you avoid the jitters and withdrawal of your afternoon cup of joe.
1. Don’t Skip Breakfast!
It can be hard to budget in the time to make a hearty breakfast for yourself before work, but it is worth it later! Breakfasts that are full of complex carbs like whole wheat bread, quinoa, and oats sustain your blood sugar throughout the day, helping you to avoid the dips and peaks of your blood sugar levels. Try out some of these recipes that can be made the night before or morning of for a nutrient packed breakfast:
- Blueberry and Almond Overnight Oats
- Seamus Mullen’s Power Granola
- Superfood Nuts and Berries Smoothie Bowl
- Quinoa and Kefir Pesto Breakfast Bowl
2. Reach for Gum Instead of Candy
Ever hear of chewing gum during a standardized test? Chewing gum can increase your heart rate, which increases blood flow to the brain. By stimulating your brain, you will feel more alert and can more easily focus on the task at hand. Replacing gum for candy can also help you avoid the crashes associated with sugar consumption.
3. Herbs and Spices
Herbs and spices can offer a quick pick-me-up at any time of day. Add fresh ginger or garlic to your meal to help with digestion and heart health. If you’ve ever had issues with digestion, you know how sluggish that can make you feel! Our Honey Spice Kefir Lassi is the perfect drink to spice up your afternoon.
Kefir ranks high on our list of energy-boosting foods, which shouldn’t come as a big surprise. With 12 live and active cultures in every serving, kefir supports a healthy digestive system and boosts immunity. Try it in the morning with fresh fruit, over granola, or straight up, and you might even find yourself skipping your daily latte all together. Frozen kefir also makes the perfect afternoon indulgence without the guilt!
You may be thinking: “I drink water, but I still feel sluggish!” Well, we can guarantee you probably aren’t drinking enough. You should drink at least 8 glasses of water a day — the colder, the better! If you’re at work, you’ll get the added benefit of getting up and stretching your legs to get to the water cooler.
Lentils are a high-fiber, high-protein food that will keep you going without the caffeine jitters. Unlike beans, dry lentils don’t require pre-soaking, so they’re ready to eat in under a half an hour. Try them cold with fresh chopped veggies and a vinegar dressing for lunch, or serve them hot, mixed with rice for a power-packed dinner.
7. Avoid the Dark
Sitting in a dark area will just add to your fatigue. Make sure that as the natural light fades, you have an alternative form of light to stay awake. Increasing the brightness of your laptop or phone can help too.
If you are interested in learning how to boost your mood as well, click here.
7 Caffeine-Free Ways To Boost Your Energy
When your energy level falls into the red zone, you probably reach for our culture's quick fix: caffeine. In fact, women in their 30s consume about 165 milligrams of the stuff each day, but by age 50, the daily average leaps to 225 milligrams, a recent USDA report reveals. "We have an energy crisis of historic proportions going on," says Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., an internist and fatigue expert. "We are reaching for anything that will give us energy -- and we're over-relying on coffee now more than ever."
That said, scrapping your daily Starbucks isn't necessary -- the antioxidants in java are good for you -- but you shouldn't rely on a seven-cup habit to carry you through the day, either. That's just putting a bandage on your exhaustion. Instead, beat fatigue for real with these out-of-the-box energy boosters.
Carbs = crash, right? Yes -- but only if you eat the stripped-down kind that modern foods favor. "White flour will give you a boost, but then a crash so you feel sluggish," says Teitelbaum. "But whole grains give you real energy." In fact, people who replaced three servings of refined carbs with whole grains each day reported an increase in energy, a recent study in the journal Appetite found. More isn't better, though: Those who worked in six servings of good carbs just felt sluggish. Why? OD'ing on whole grains triggers a surge of serotonin, which makes you feel drowsy, explains Teitelbaum.
Consider breakfast prime time for packing them in. In the study, people felt that front-loading their whole grains -- say, by eating whole-grain cereal and a slice of toast with breakfast (while still including protein, of course) -- made it easier to meet their quota.
It's 3 p.m. on a workday. How do you beat the slump? According to a recent University of Michigan study, the most common strategies are checking email, switching tasks, or making a to-do list. However, none of these tactics actually improved employees' sense of energy. What did: learning something new.
"The more actively you can engage your brain, the more alerting an activity is going to be," says John Caldwell, Ph.D., a fatigue management specialist and former NASA researcher. "You can actually overcome a good bit of sleep pressure just by engaging in something interesting." So brush up on your Excel skills, for example, or listen to a short work-related podcast.
It’s no surprise that physical activity puts a pep in your step. But gardening -- which can count as a workout -- may have a leg up on the stationary bike. Why? It’s fun. "If you hate exercise, don't bother -- all you're going to do is quit, then feel guilty," says Teitelbaum. "Doing something you love is one of the most powerful ways to get sustained, healthy energy." Recent German research found that active hobbies, like gardening, are more energizing than sedentary ones, like reading.
Digging in the dirt is especially stimulating: Skin-to-skin contact with soil can fight oxidative stress in your body, which, in turn, energizes you. "All the electrical devices in your house are linked to a wire that grounds them to the outside. People also need to ground," says Teitelbaum. "The act of touching soil is grounding -- the positive electrons flow out of your body, and negative charge flows from the earth." That's why he suggests ditching your gloves, or even better, going barefoot in your garden. This practice, called "earthing," may sound a little far-fetched, but regardless, research has proven that time outside is energizing.
2. Decaf Green Tea
Green tea has long been linked to lowering cholesterol and also contains many antioxidants, such as catechin, that fight and possibly prevent cell damage from aging. The bitter taste and sensation of drinking a cup of hot tea wake me up on cold mornings, without subjecting my body to the caffeine, creamer, or sugar of coffee.
Also, the shout-out to my nutritionist-researcher mom and her work on green tea's positive effects on bone health in postmenopausal women, showing that green tea can benefit people of all ages, from now until old age.
Vanilla Maca Cooler with Vanilla-Infused Ice Cubes
A cold, refreshing way to harness the energy-boosting adaptogen, maca! No caffeine, just pure, sustained energy. via TraditionalCookingSchool.com.
Roasted Sesame Seeds
Coenzyme Q10 is required for your body to produce ATP, its primary energy molecule. Failure to get enough coenzyme Q10 can leave you feeling sluggish and lethargic (Stocker, 2012). Eating an ounce of sesame seeds gives you 0.7 mg of coenzyme Q10, which can provide a natural energy boost. Soybean oil (or soy lecithin powder), peanuts, and pistachios are other excellent sources of this energizing compound.
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald
Allicin, which is naturally found in garlic, has been found to boost heart health and promote a strong metabolism. The benefits can be found through the anti-inflammation nature of the ingredient. With this recipe, the benefits of garlic are top-notch, but the flavor isn't sacrificed whatsoever.
Get our recipe for Steak with Garlic Gravy.
Postum Wheat Bran and Molasses
Postum is a wheat-based powdered coffee alternative that has been around since the late 1800s, though the instant drink version didn&apost come around until 1912. The creator, C.W. Post, was a student of John Harvey Kellog, and like me, he didn&apost dig caffeine. The beverage is made from roasted wheat bran, wheat, and molasses. Molasses is high and iron and contains more nutrients than plain old sugar, but if you&aposre watching your sugar or gluten intake, this might not be the beverage for you.
Buy it: Postum Wheat Bran & Molasses Coffee Alternative, $25 amazon.com
7. Collagen Smoothie Bowl
Public Lives Secret Recipes
Whether you’re Team Classic Smoothie or Team Smoothie Bowl, there’s no denying this collagen-infused smoothie bowl recipe is a winner. Smoothie bowls tend to be a bit thicker than standard drinkable smoothies, and this one is full of antioxidants and nutrients to kick-start your day.
Strawberries and Cream Overnight Oats
Remember those strawberries and cream instant oatmeal pouches from your childhood? This recipe is kind of like that, only way healthier. Combine vanilla protein powder with rolled oats, Greek yogurt, and unsweetened almond milk before going to bed, then wake up to a ready-made breakfast just begging for a handful of fresh strawberries.
Per serving: 347 cal, 8 g fat, 56 g carbs, 15 g protein, 6.5 g fiber